Coercive Control

Coercive Control is when someone in a relationship is continuously controlling to the person they are in a relationship with. Threats and intimidation are used in order to increase the control over a person, isolate them from their support networks, frighten and control their everyday behaviour.⁠
It is considered to be one of the most dangerous risk factors within domestic abuse.

What is controlling behaviour?

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by:

  • isolating them from sources of support
  • exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain
  • depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape
  • regulating their everyday behaviour

What is coercive behaviour?

In this video, Sharon Baker of Avon and Somerset Police, describes what happened to her.


Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

Coercive control involves repeated, ongoing, intentional tactics, which are used to limit the liberty of the victim. Those tactics may or may not necessarily be physical. They can be sexual, economic, psychological, legal, institutional, or all of these.

By deploying these tactics, the abuser can create a world where the victim is constantly monitored and criticised and every move and action checked. Victims often describe coercive control as not being ‘allowed’, or having to ask permission to do everyday things; and being in constant fear of not meeting the abusers expectations or complying with their demands.

Coercive tactics can include:

  • Destroying other relationships and isolating her/him from friends, family members, co-workers and others. This can include restricting them from going to work, caring for their children, seeing family members, or going out with friends socially.
  • Control of resources required for autonomous decision making and independence. This could involve restricting access to finances or being made to account for every penny spent. It can also include being pressured to take out loans, credit cards or hand over money.
  • Monitoring of time and micro-regulation of daily activities, restricting mobility and transportation.
  • Restricting access to communication, such as contacting family members or friends.
  • Restricting the wearing of certain clothes or makeup.
  • Unreasonable and non-negotiable demands. This includes intimidation and threats of negative consequences for noncompliance.
  • Stalking – surveillance and unwanted contact. (Read more on our blog here) 
  • Manipulation through minimisation, excuses, blame, denial, lies, promises, etc.
  • Controlling partner’s access to information and services.
  • Sexual abuse and violence; reproductive coercion.
  • Extreme jealousy, possessiveness and unwarranted accusations of infidelity.
  • Ignoring their partner’s needs, opinions and feelings, and the harm that their behaviour does to her/him.

You can read more example of Domestic Abuse in the blogs, written by our Outreach Worker, Sandra